Not a slow motion montage of 2012.

Well, we survived Christmas, and despite consuming silly amounts of food (mainly desserts and chocolates) I have not had to buy new clothes.  This is good.

I would declare this Christmas a decent one, and I have absolutely loved being at home for an extended run of days.  It has proved to me, as if proof were needed, that I would be absolutely superb as a lottery winner.  I am a firm believer that if anyone wins enough to ensure they need never work again, and they continue working then they should be stripped of the money, and it be given to someone else, ideally me.

I don’t get this “I’d be bored if I didn’t work” thing.  I have filled every day very easily, and that is without having the luxury of endless funds with which to entertain myself and the family.  With a few million in the bank I don’t know how I’d find time to even think about my previous life where I was a slave to an alarm clock and overdraft.

Most weeks I go through the thought process, in some detail, of exactly what I would do with a sizeable lottery win.  I won’t go into the level of planning I undertake as you would think me sad(der), but whenever those balls wish to drop I am more than ready.  Are you listening Dale?

Anyway, back to xmas just gone, and as you are no doubt aware we were hosting.  The burden was lightened by everyone who came bringing with them a vital element of the meal, so really it was just about finding somewhere for every one to sit.

The day started too early, with Rebecca as ever channeling her five-year old self.  After trying to go for a quiet wee around 7.30am, I got back to bed to find a text from Rebecca asking if she could get up yet.  Knowing that Emily’s body would probably require about four more hours sleep we tried to stall her as long as possible but within minutes she was up in Emily’s room making a nuisance of herself.  Luckily Emily spared her life and we piled downstairs to open presents.

Emily

Eye contact is not advisable this early

Rebecca

About 30 seconds later she had them all opened

From various sources Oli had as many presents as the girls.  He liked this one a lot.

Oli

Mine!

The rest of the day was a blur of gifts, family, eggnog and food…so much food.

Rebecca channeling Bet Lynch with that top

Rebecca channeling Bet Lynch with that top

xmas day meal

Some of the clan

Since Christmas Day we have waved off most of the family as they left for Florida where they are right now.  This.Is.Absolutely.Fine.  Moving on.

So thoughts now turn to the New Year, and no doubt you are already overdosed on slow motion montages of 2012, and those ever so hilarious not at all scripted panel shows where they tell us all what happened in case we’d forgotten.

As I can’t do slow motion montages, I’ll keep my review brief.  2012 was, like pretty much every year, a mixed bag of ups and downs.  It is tempting to slag off every year and say you are glad to see the back of it, but if you keep doing that all you end up is dead.

The year about to end was busy, traumatic in some ways but also included some good stuff too.  Of course us somehow managing another Florida trip was a major highlight for me, but just to prove the point about ups and downs, of course Mum’s illness preventing them coming along wasn’t great.

Louise started her nursing course in 2012, which is the realisation of a long-held ambition, and despite some real downs I have ended the year in a really good place job wise.  Incredibly after ten years in one place I have changed jobs three times this year.  The first by choice, mainly on a point of principle after how they treated a load of people who worked for me.  The second was more or less forced as the company was heading for a brick wall, and the third was flatteringly via some head hunting, but awkwardly only a few weeks after starting a new job.  I am often the first to bemoan our luck and look for the worst in a situation, but the way in which that happened, and the job and company I have now settled with was pretty much a gift from the gods.

The girls are healthy, happy (as much as teenagers can be amidst their raging hormones and mood swings) and not on drugs, dependent on alcohol or familiar to the police.  I’ll settle for that.

We also moved house in 2012.  The fact that this happened right in the middle of job move number two made the early summer probably one of the most stressful times of my life.  Having to secure a new job and deal with the inevitable nonsense of a move was not good.  Sure, people go through a lot worse, but I don’t want to repeat that thanks.

The wider world outside the Williams sanctum has crumbled to shit a little more in the past twelve months.  Financial disaster, corruption, scandal and lies have dominated the headlines.  Basically if you were on TV between 1970 and 1985 you should expect to be arrested in 2013.

So looking ahead to 2013, I expect another year of similar ups and downs.  Aside from the inevitable lottery win that is bound to come our way (isn’t it?) there won’t be a Florida holiday.  I know, I know, you won’t believe me but unless a whole heap of cash falls into our lap there is no chance.  The house is screaming at us to spend money on it, and a holiday is rightly someway behind all that in the pecking order.

In the few short months since we got here we have converted the loft, repaired the chimney, cosmetically enhanced the kitchen as best we can without a full refit, titivated Rebecca’s room and painted various bits of the bathroom.  Of course I also bled the radiators!!

The list of what we still want and need to do is longer than the list of desserts I ate on Christmas Day.

Between now and the end of the summer Emily will be doing her A levels and Rebecca her GCSEs.  The house could turn into a war zone in the battle to get them to do sufficient work and revision.  I am of course looking forward to that!

Our journey into the new year will be just Louise and I, as both the girls are out at parties, and of course the rest of the family are in bloody WDW! We intend to raise hell with a visit to the pictures and a meal in local pub.  I am the Ozzie Osbourne of the North West.  Making it to midnight is not guaranteed!

So I wish you all well for the New Year, thank you for your support and time in tolerating the trip report(s), and your continued interest in and reading of these weekly verbal vomits is astounding and appreciated in equal measure.

So there you go, probably the only retrospective of 2012 you will come across without mentioning the Olympics…oh bollocks!

Till the next time….Till the next year…..

Craig.

Two loo seats and other festive treats

Fear not, there shall be no political ranting this week.  I finished work last Tuesday, and so I am almost at the stage where I am starting to relax a bit.  It does usually take me those few days to shed the grinding routine from my system, and this was evidenced by me not getting out of bed this morning until 10.40!!  That is testimony not just to my relaxed state but also to the very impressive performance of my prostate.  That’s what I call bladder control!  Take that middle age!

I have spent my days being busy but in a good way…..mainly.  I’ve done a couple of decent walks with Oli, and done some of those long overdue niggling jobs around the house.  I am not one to spare you from detail, so these have involved changing both toilet seats in the house and replacing about twenty-six bulbs that were out.  I had not planned to replace both toilet seats, however having selected a new one for the main loo all by myself, as soon as it was fitted it became quite clear that it was not correct.  Well, so Louise told me anyway.  What is wrong with a bright white toilet seat on a cream toilet I do not know.  Anyway, to save any tears (mine) I allowed Louise to go and choose another one, and I retired the bright white one to the en suite, where it still looks a bit odd, but no-one sees that other than mine and Louise’s under parts.

I have also shampooed our carpets.  Really, how do you live with the level of excitement in these blog posts?  Loo seats and carpet cleaning in one week must have you on the edge of sleep.

Christmas wise, I wisely secured a delivery slot with Asda some weeks ago, and this duly turned up on Saturday.  The delivery driver had the haunted look of someone who had about a dozen similar mammoth deliveries to get through that day.  Having spent an enormous amount I was somewhat aghast and let down to realise when he’d left that we had no actual food.

We have lots of booze, plenty of stuff for Christmas day but very little actual day-to-day stuff.  So this morning I had to walk up to the local Co-op and do a mini shop just so we can eat before the big day.  It sort of took the shine off my smugness at being so organised for once.

We are hosting this year, however, the burden is somewhat reduced as everyone involved is pitching in to cook various elements of the food required.  So the more people we invite the less we have to do.  If we get a few more round I only have to open the peanuts and buy a cheese board and we’re away!

One distinct advantage of living next door to my Mum & Dad is that we can devise a way to seat all twelve of us.  We are going to dismantle their dining room table and  bring it into our house.  With a few emergency chairs and sitting close together we should be OK.

I’m sure you like us are plagued with the fear of having forgotten something key, and therefore disappointing someone who fancies a glace cherry.  Oh bugger, we don’t have any glace cherries.

Thinking about it, should any of our guests require such a thing, I can live with it, as most of them jet off to Florida two days later.  That’s right, my brother, his three kids (plus a couple of their partners)  and my Mum & Dad are spending ten days there, and I don’t mind a bit.  Giving dining recommendations through gritted teeth is perfectly normal isn’t it?

Should you all wish to club together and fund us to join them, call my boss and Louise’s University placement and secure the required time off, kennel the dog and cats and pack, then that would be a real nice xmas treat and no mistake!

Instead, I shall spend the remainder of my xmas hols in the elasticated pants, staying in very close proximity to the TV and Xbox, and determined to clear the cupboards in readiness for the inevitable new year diet.  I am not in any way ready though for the already recorded onslaught of “New Year, New You” nonsense.  You just know there will be the normal parade of leotard clad minor celebs trying to fool you into thinking their DVD will get you thin, when in reality they have an eating disorder and a history of surgical procedures to thank.

Still, soon be Easter!!

Merry Christmas.

Oli in hat

I love this hat!

Till the next time…..

A non funny rant…so nothing new this week then….

I like America.  I like it a lot.  The fact that in terms of surface area I have only ever visited a very small percentage of it does not detract from the affection in which I hold most of it.

If at any point in my life I get both the time and the funds, I have every intention of visiting lots of different bits of it.  This is a recognition that the bits I’ve been to are the sugar-coated, freshly painted tourist ready facades, but still, as a country it is on my list of things I like a lot.

Of course, like anything with positives it has some negatives too.  Jimmy Saville did quite a lot for charity, but seems to have blotted his copybook somewhat by the small matter of also being the most renowned and prolific sexual predator in UK history.  On balance then the negatives win in that case.

Despite my affection for the US, I feel I should probably bring up the fact that America is pretty much almost certainly politically corrupt.  This is most likely a negative!

For example, if your brother runs a state where the election results might be a bit close, it seems it can be arranged that you actually win that state, even when you didn’t really.  The fact that the real winner should have been Al Gore, who would have implemented massive mounts of green policies, and thus upset nearly all of the massive conglomerates who need to keep killing the planet to make their profits is just another coincidence surely?

Even when you get elected president it seems you are not safe.  Should you be a really popular young handsome president who happens to make a few decisions that go against the grain, then the good old authorities are not averse to having you bumped off on National television just to smooth the running of the world.

So this country of glamour, glitz and of course fabulous holidays has a few flaws then.  However, all of those are pretty insignificant when compared to the fact that there is actually a law that pretty much insists that you own a gun.  In fact, the lower your IQ, or the higher your depressive EMO tendencies then the more you are encouraged to own multiple firearms.

This is of course every “Americuns” right, to defend their home.  So having six fully automatic rifles to keep the marauding hordes out of your one bed apartment is A-OK.  Daft, quaint things like burglar alarms, decent locks and maybe even a dog are just old-fashioned ideas that those funny folk across the Atlantic persist with.

So all this pithy build up is a prelude to a very unfunny scenario that of course happened earlier this week. I have to say that I don’t know all the details of the killings that happened in an elementary school, as I could not bring myself to watch the news.  I know that around twenty children were gunned down along with about ten other teachers and other adults.

For a country that is so advanced, in so many ways, that gives the world so many great things, and of course that has given me and my family some of the best experiences and memories we’ll ever have, how can it be that in 2012 this global giant still allows any knob head to stock up on guns ready for the day that something doesn’t go their own way.

If this were a one-off, like of course our own tragic Dunblane, then we would mourn it as that, and put all our efforts into those affected.  But these things are regular events, and how many do they need to get the hint that something needs to change?

So come on Barack, I suspect you are a decent sensible chap, even though I have never met you.  Sod the rednecks who will piss and moan and sort out your gun laws.  There are several children somewhere in America right now who will owe you a massive debt of gratitude if you do, but then again if you do, they will never know you saved them.

Till the next time…..

Bleak Blackpool and Dale Winton’s Tan

Emily met Dale Winton this week.  OK, so met may be a little strong, but she was in the same room for many hours.  I think it was Tuesday when she asked if she could go to the BBC at Salford to watch a recording of In It To Win It.  Her teacher had somehow got some tickets and offered them out to the class, so off she went.

It was at best OK, but the whole experience seems to have been blighted by the audience having to endure sub-zero temperatures so that Dale’s tan wouldn’t be sweated off during the recording.  As a student of Film and Media, experiences like this can only be good, and the endurance of low temperatures can only be good for the spirit in later life, especially as by the time she has her own place, heating it will require one of the lottery wins Dale so often introduces.

It was also good practice for our day out on Saturday.  We (the girls and I that is) went to Blackpool on Saturday.  A strange choice I hear you think…..but one sort of forced upon us.  Emily needed to get some more photographs for her latest photography course work.  The coursework is in two halves.  The first half taken in WDW last August, and the second contrasting piece now being taken in a bleak mid winter UK, at various theme and amusement venues.

So we set off at around lunchtime, and about an hour later were parked up on the prom just outside the Pleasure Beach in the shadow of the Big One, which by coincidence is the title of an adult film….so I am told!

All the pictures here are mine by the way, not Emily’s!

Pleasure Beach

Bleak mid winter

By Christ it was cold.  Of course as we left the house I went through the pointless ritual of telling Rebecca that what she had on was nowhere near sufficient for the expected conditions.  As usual I lost, and as usual I was proven absolutely correct as her teeth began to chatter within seconds of leaving the car.

So we wandered up the prom with Emily snapping away, and popped into a couple of amusement arcades, amazed that they were open, and not at all amazed that they were deserted.

Whilst Emily took her photos Rebecca began her onslaught of miethering to have a go on those bloody claw games where you give money away to operate a mechanical arm for a few seconds.  I was eventually worn down and kissed goodbye to a couple of quid, only to be amazed a minute later when Rebecca turned up with this.

Rebecca wins

The winner takes it all

I bet the owner of the arcade was gutted as she’d just wiped out his weekend’s profits.

Out into the cold again, and more photos down by the pier.

Pier

It was too cold for the sea to make an appearance

As we crossed back to the non sea-side of the prom it became apparent that times were tough, with nearly every other hotel being up for sale or boarded up.  Those still trading looked one bad weekend away from joining them if I am honest.

Blackpool hotel

Sunshine indoors

Still, we were having a nice time to be honest.  Spending time together like this is rare these days, and despite the slow onset of frost bite I was very glad we did it.  Even the girls were smiling.

Girls

Frozen fringes

Yes Rebecca does indeed have Toms on with no socks!

We walked for quite some time up the prom, but as we went it was becoming obvious that we had all the photos Emily was going to get, and we were more likely to die from the cold before she got any worthy of that sacrifice, so we turned back.

We made it back to the McDonalds and went in hoping for a hot chocolate to warm our frozen bones.  Alas, in keeping with the look and feel of the resort, the machine was broken, so we settled for coffee and cokes instead.  As we drank and watched the world go by, the weather worsened, and the drizzle became steady rain…cold steady rain.

McDonalds View

A window on the woe

I left the girls finishing their drinks whilst I walked the rest of the way for the car, and drove back to pick them up.  The fringes must be protected at all times.  After the usual nonsense of trying to find the road out of Blackpool, we eventually found the motorway and headed for home.

I know that mid December is no time to judge a resort like Blackpool, but it was grim, cheap, tatty and of course baltic.  I did jest with the girls that we could have holidayed there for the past ten years instead of Florida, but they knew I was bluffing.  There is just no way we could afford to holiday in Blackpool for two weeks!

Saturday evening was spent walking the dog, dropping off and picking up Rebecca from a friends and being very pleasantly surprised at how much we all enjoyed The McFly Show on ITV1.  I don’t know if it was the fact that it was a weekend show that didn’t involve any form of voting, or whether it was just genuinely funny and entertaining (apart from the odd Al Murray moment), but we really enjoyed it.

Sunday has been spent Christmas shopping.  Nearly all of it online of course as I am not mental, but we did nip out to an actual shop to get Louise’s gift.  She had asked for a bike, so it made no sense to either try to wrap that bugger or hide it away for two weeks so we went out to get her one.

Owning a clown car these days I had to employ the services of my brother and his amazing bike rack to get it home.  Well, it serves him right for going to Florida the day after Boxing Day!

So a mini trip report has formed this week’s bloggage, which saves you from any sort of rant about crap TV, even worse traffic or just the fact that I didn’t win the lottery again.  We should do this day out thing more often!

Till the next time….

 

 

 

A wally wallet forgetter

If I start by telling you that this week and indeed blog will be a snot free zone, then just by doing that I have made it untrue.  Anyway, after a full two weeks of my life threatening cold I appear to be recovered.

With that trouble behind me I have been enjoying the finer things in life, like sleep and the ability to breathe and as such was looking forward to the weekend.  I should by rights have been in London for a Christmas do with work, but decided against it as to be honest I wanted my own bed over the weekend, and the do involved making decisions about what to wear in swanky London eateries and discotheques, and I honestly couldn’t be arsed with the shopping or selection process that might involve.  At my age once it goes dark I just want to get home, draw the curtains and get “seckled”.

It would seem that the Gods of Christmas dos decided to take full and vengeful revenge for this indiscretion, as I have had a weekend that makes you think you should have either stayed in bed or gone and drank forty-eight tequila shots in Stringfellows with some work colleagues.

So Saturday started normally enough.  The Big Shop was on its way from Asda, and for the past few weeks they have always turned up towards the end of the two-hour slot.  With this in mind, I went for a shower leaving Rebecca to look out for the van just in case it arrived.  So as soon as I had unleashed my toned and teasingly taught frame from the shackles of clothing and had one toe in the shower, Rebecca shouted that they were here.  A mild inconvenience, and I quickly dressed and came downstairs to deal with the delivery.

The rest of the morning dwindled away, and after lunch Louise and I had the joyous honour of a visit to B&Q (on xmas tree buying weekend) to get some wallpaper for our long undecorated kitchen.  Time was already getting on by the time we set off, and the traffic was a thing from the bowels of hell.  The increasingly frustrating and depressing state of the traffic whenever I am trying to get anywhere is the subject for a whole other bile ridden moan filled ranty blog at some future date!

So it took an age to drive the few short miles to our local B&Q.  We got out of the car, and I did my normal pat down routine to make sure I have everything….phone….car keys…wallet….bollocks.  Now, I didn’t have to pat anything to know I had those.  That last expletive was more of a cry of anguish realising that I had left my wallet at home.

How I laughed.  I told Louise to go and choose stuff (I have no input into these decisions anyway) and I would “pop” home to get it.  So I wrestled through the crappy traffic again, dashed in to get my wallet and set off again.  I needed my wallet for petrol too, so as soon as we’d done the DIY thing we’d stop on the way home for that.  A few hundred yards later, as I moved out to overtake a bus that had stopped, a press of the accelerator met with no response.  It soon dawned on me that for the first time ever, I had run out of petrol!

I coasted to a stop, luckily in a legal parking place, tried to phone Louise to tell her what had happened, but of course as per usual her “mobile” phone was pretty much the opposite on the dining room table.

So I set off walking back home (thankfully I had only driven a couple of minutes) to get Louise’s car.  I have to say that my stress levels were a bubbling at this point.  I wanted to get the wall papering done, and I could feel time rushing away as I tried to walk home as quickly as possible without slipping on the inconveniently icy pavements.

With a vehicle secured, I tried again to get to the promised land of B&Q, and the traffic had gone up by about another 25%, so by the time I got to Louise I was a coronary waiting to happen.  We checked out, and set off for home.

Once home, through more tortuous bobbins traffic, I looked for the petrol canister that Louise bought recently when she ran out of petrol!  Of course, I couldn’t find it, so we set off again in Louise’s car to the petrol station.  I paid a ridiculous £6.99 for a suitable and legal petrol container, as apparently they don’t let you dispense it into an Asda bag.

I then filled said container, and we drove back to my car, through even more even worse traffic where I got it going again and drove home.  By this stage I had fallen out with the world….all of it, and I sat in a monstrous sulk for the rest of the day whilst Louise and the girls did the Christmas decorations.  My aversion to festivity at this point measured about 400 on the Richter scale.

My anger was aimed at me, and me alone, (apart from the driver of the X reg Hyundai who did 24 miles an hour in front of us all the way back from B&Q) for being such a complete arse and forgetting my wallet, which kicked off this stupid and maddening series of events.

Still, no-one died, and as the night wore on I calmed down and got back to some sort of normality even though I had to sit through most of the X Factor.  You can imagine how Christopher Maloney helped my mood?

So Sunday dawned full of fresh starts and new hope.  Alas, today has consisted of decorating the kitchen, and I have documented many times what sort of frame of mind DIY puts me in.  It is complete, and apart from one” is it overlapping at the top” comment from Louise as I was about ten seconds into the second piece, any unpleasantness was kept to a minimum.

Oh, and the dishwasher broke.

Ho, Ho, Ho.

festive

Till the next time…..